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County prepares for likelihood of flooding

Officials hosted a meeting last week to talk about the potential of a flood event within the county this spring and make preliminary plans about what to do should an event occur.

More than 50 people – township, city and county leaders and officials as well as concerned residents – attended the meeting which was held in the Community Room of the Day County Courthouse March 20.

“The snow melt has caused a lot of issues across the state,” said Day County Emergency Manager Bryan Anderson.

Anderson reported to the room on the weather outlook from NOAA, saying the temperatures were expected to continue reaching freezing levels overnight for the rest of the week, which will help alleviate any potential flood concerns. By the weekend, Anderson said temperatures may stay above freezing overnight but would get back to 32 degrees and lower into next week overnight with highs in the upper 30s to mid 40s during the day. What Anderson described as a “small rain event” is expected sometime in the week but the amount expected was not known.

In Day County, Anderson said the biggest concern will be frozen culverts keeping the moisture and snow melt from draining properly, leading to potential issues throughout the area. Day County Highway Superintendent Ben Braaten said the county highway department has a steamer which can open any frozen culverts.

Besides roads being overrun by water, officials said they are also concerned about the possibility of sinkholes forming.

Anderson also said, with ice sheets on the lakes at three feet yet, any wind event could create problems.

Braaten told the group the county can get empty sandbags from the state for 14.5-cents each. Those bags would need to befilled. Sand, he added, will cost $5.90 per ton.

The county has 10,000 sandbags already on hand, but they are empty and would need to be filled.

Officials said, should a flood event occur, contact them and they would do their best to get a sandbag filling station set up as near to them as possible.

Game, Fish & Parks representative Austin Norton said his department has resources available to help in a flood event and can be reached through Anderson’s office or the sheriff’s department. Besides ATVs and flat bottom boats, they also have a 12-inch PTO-drive pump that could help clear water from somewhere if needed.

“We’ll help out when we can or if we can,” Norton said.

Additional supplies at the county’s disposal, according to Braaten, are 30 barricades for closing any county or township roads that may go under water; his department is also in the process of making more, he said.

A township representative asked about barricades needing to be reflective and Braaten said he had reflective tape that could be put on those barricades or yellow caution tape that will flap in the wind and get a driver’s attention. Hay bales and tractors are not good alternatives however, as they are not visible enough at night and can cause an accident if they’re run into.

If any road does end up being closed due to flooding, Anderson said county officials need to be alerted so they can update the emergency responders map.

Sheriff Ryan Rucktaeschel told people that he and his deputies cannot be out on every road.

“So we’re going to rely on you guys,” he said. “If you know of a bad area and can check on them, let us know if water is going over. Help us. If you guys see something, let us know. We’re all part of Day County. If you have issues, reach out. We all live here. It’s what we do.”

The public is being asked to contact either the highway department or the sheriff’s department if water is found going over any roads within the county. The Day County Sheriff’s Office phone number is 345-3222 and the Day County Highway Department number is 345-4658. In case of an emergency, dial 911.

AlertSense sign up

Mandy Bartelt with the Day County Sheriff’s Office spoke about AlertSense, the county-wide free alert system that notifies those who are signed up through a call or text message of a public safety issue and community alerts.

To sign up, Bartelt said all it takes is a two-minute phone call to her at the sheriff’s department. She said she needs the private cell phone database in order to insure better alert coverage to the county’s residents.

“It’s a very important thing to be informed about,” Bartelt said.

Anderson said that the information sent out on AlertSense is factual and can be counted on.

“It’s not something that’s been shared on Facebook that might not be accurate,” he said. “If this is something you get, you can count that it’s from me or Mandy, your city, community or township leaders.”

While city, town and county leaders are currently using AlertSense to send messages to their residents, Bartelt told township supervisors to contact her if they had a message that needed to be sent out specifically to their township residents because the system is capable of sending out a message just to certain areas of the map.

“We can send out messages pretty quick,” Bartelt said.

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